Tag Archives: capitalization

About Capitalization


Food Fight   ©Judi Birnberg

If you’d like a list of rules governing when to capitalize a letter, use the search box and put in Capitalization Rules. I posted the list a little over a year ago.

I just want to add that although a word may have special significance for you, your response won’t be universal: Exercise will fill you with Joy and Energy. When you finish your 75 pushups, you may be elated and buzzing with verve. Nevertheless, joy and energy are nothing more than ordinary, common nouns. They aren’t official names of anything (proper nouns) and should not be capitalized.

As I wrote in my previous post about capital letters,

Be very sparing in using capitalization for emphasis. Let your words show the emphasis. As with any form of calling attention to your message (e.g., bold, italics, underlining), when you emphasize everything you end up emphasizing nothing.

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Common Sense Rules for Emails


You have received enough emails in your time to make you aware of certain behaviors that annoy or even anger you. Here are a few reminders to keep your recipients happy:

1. DON’T WRITE IT ALL CAPS. They are hard to read and your readers will think you are shouting.

2. all lower case isn’t any better. it looks immature and is likewise annoying to read. I hope you enjoy e.e. cummings’  poetry, but please don’t emulate his style; it belongs to him.

3. Don’t leave the subject line blank. If you need to write only a few words, you can put the entire message in the subject line and, in parentheses afterward, add (end) or (EOM). For example, Meeting tomorrow at 10:00 (end).

4. If you’re sending the same email to several people, you’ll probably want to use Bcc: in the address line for each person. Otherwise, you are revealing everyone’s email address to everyone else on the list, and it might not be your place to do that. Use your discretion.

5. If you receive information from another person, do not copy all or part of that when you write to others—unless you have received permission from the original writer to do so.

6. Don’t use a background color or colored fonts in your emails. They make it harder to read, and if you are responding, those colors may go into your email. It’s annoying all around.

7. If you write an angry email, do not send it. At least don’t send it immediately. Sleep on it. You may decide not to send it at all, or you may want to tone it down. Don’t demean yourself.

If you have other suggestions, I’d love to see them. We can all learn from each other. Thanks!

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To Capitalize or Not to Capitalize, That May Be Your Question

Here are two situations that confuse people about whether they should capitalize:

1) The seasons: Ordinarily, do not capitalize seasons. For instance, “It will be spring in a few days.” However, if you need to document which particular spring, do capitalize the season: “Your next evaluation will be in Spring 2015.”

2) Directions vs. geographical areas: The latter are capitalized. For example, the Near East, the South, Southern California, the Mid-Atlantic states. Directions, however, are not capitalized. “She got on the San Diego Freeway and crept south for over 50 miles.”


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Capitol or Capital?

English: The western front of the United State...

English: The western front of the United States Capitol. The Neoclassical style building is located in Washington, D.C., on top of Capitol Hill at the east end of the National Mall. The Capitol was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1960. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Do you get confused about which of these homonyms you need? Here are the differences:

CAPITOL refers to the actual building of state: “The governor entered the Capitol to deliver her annual State-of-the-State report.”

The Capitol in Washington, DC is the seat of the US Congress.

CAPITAL has several meanings:

It refers to the city or town that is the seat of government. “Sacramento is the capital of California.”

It also means the place associated with a particular product or activity: “Salzburg is the capital of festivals devoted to Mozart’s music.”

Capital also refers to the money a person or group has to invest: “Getty’s capital has funded several museums.”

Then there are capital letters, which are not recommended for e-mails, except for their commonly accepted uses; OTHERWISE, YOU WILL COME ACROSS AS A SCREAMER, AND WE WOULDN’T WANT THAT, WOULD WE?



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Are You Guilty of a Capital Offense?

English: Letter by Benjamin Franklin reproduce...

English: Letter by Benjamin Franklin reproduced in Bogtrykkeren Benjamin Franklin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Many people have a rampant case of capitalizationitis: they are in love with capital letters and annoyingly sprinkle them with abandon throughout their writing.  In earlier centuries, no rules existed and people used  capital letters at will. Remember, you are not Ben Franklin or Dolly Madison, so control the urge.

Don’t use capital letters to call attention to a word. You see this all the time in advertising: “Make your Money work for You!”  “Best Plumber in the city!”  “Ripe Peaches, $1.59/lb.”

Let the meaning of your words carry the message. Don’t rely on capital letters, italics, boldface or exclamation points.

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